Responding to the Research Paper Draft
You can save this page as a text file and add your comments directly, then save it. Give a copy to the writer, so your comments can be used for revising the draft. First spend some time reviewing the project to gain an overview. Then focus on the key issues below. Make notes in a text file for the most significant issues, and turn it in to the teacher folder. The author can then take a copy to use as a reference while revising.
Write a few sentences about your first impressions after reading the draft.
Does the draft clearly define the topic early in the essay? Write a one-sentence statement of the topic. Does the topic match the requirements of the assignment? (Refer to the original wording of the assignment if you are not sure.) Is the topic likely to seem interesting or important for readers? If not, what might the writer do to increase the reader's interest? Does the draft provide enough context to establish the topic as significant?
Research on the Issue
Does the draft provide a variety of viewpoints on the topic, or does it depend on one source or point of view? Are the viewpoints treated fairly and reasonably? Have enough sources been consulted to provide a solid foundation for the paper? Does the draft draw on a range of different kinds of sources? Are the sources credible or authoritative enough, or should additional (or altogether different) sources be consulted?
References to Sources
Look closely at how the sources are handled in the text. There should be a balance between the writer's contribution to the paper and the contributions from sources. Too many direct citations leaves little room for the writer's voice. On the other hand, too few references to sources causes readers to doubt the writer's credibility. Is there a good balance in the draft? Notice whether long direct quotations could be summarized, abbreviated, or broken up, or where too-brief citations need to be expanded. Are there direct quotations that should be incorporated into the text, or conversely, material referred to indirectly that should be directly quoted? Does the writer provide a context for the references to help readers evaluate the source of the information? (For example: "Jim Palmer, an agent with the DEA, argued. . ." "In a recent interview on CNN, U.S. Senator Plum denied . . ."). Is there a reasonable balance in the references and in the draft itself between factual information and opinion on the topic?
Is the information presented in the draft organized effectively? How might the writer improve the organization of the material? What major gaps still need to be filled? Does the writer provide a strong conclusion? Does it leave the reader with a coherent impression of the topic? Do you have any additional advice for the writer?